"Hmmm." I moaned with satisfaction and slowly opened my eyes as I lifted my arms for a stretch while still in bed. I felt quite refreshed this morning despite my fear of sleeping with Artemis last night. I guess I slept better than I thought. I smiled to myself as I looked over to my right and found the spot empty—Artemis was gone.
I got out of bed and went back to my room to get ready for the day. After brushing my teeth, I put on a casual yellow sleeveless dress and went downstairs. I've been wearing a lot of yellows lately, probably because it reminded me of summer and how fall was just around the corner.
I found Artemis in his office. I knocked on the open door and happily greeted him. "Good morning!"
"Morning." He looked up from his computer screen and gave me a dreamy smile. "Did you have a good sleep?"
"Yes." I answered timidly. Why was I blushing from such a simple innocent question?
"Do you have any plans today?" He asked as he got up and walked toward me.
"Good." He was pleased and continued. "You'll see."
He put his hand on the small of my back and ushered me out of the room. "If you have homework, bring it with you because we will be out for the whole day."
With his hand still on my back, I turned to him and ask as we walked. "Where are we going?"
"It's a surprise." He winked at me and made my heart leap. I don't think my heart will ever feel the same again whenever he is around.
I grabbed my school bag which had all the things I needed and ran down the stairs. I was ecstatic just to hang out with him for the whole day. I didn't care what it was that he had planned.
Once seated in his black Audi, I excitedly asked again as I grab the seatbelt. "So where are we going?"
He chuckled. "Well, first, we're going to get breakfast."
I was beyond joyful at the mention of breakfast because I was starving. He stopped by one of my top three brunch restaurants. This place was known for its amazing waffles and pancakes.
As I was about to grab the door handle, he said. "You wait here, I'll be right back."
He got out of the car before confusion registered on my face. I decided to stay put and waited patiently until he came back with two coffees and two containers of food.
"I would rather have us eat in there but we have a long drive ahead of us." He said as a way of explaining.
I eagerly accepted my coffee and the eco friendly box and opened it. I gasped and looked at him. "You got my favorite! How did you know?"
He got me one of their signatures—Waffle's Delight with fruit inside and outside and topped with a crackling brûlée. It was a breakfast to die for. As if on cue, my stomach growled.
"I have my sources." He said with a smirk like it was something to be proud of. I couldn't help but laugh.
"What did you get?" I asked in return.
"Bagel with sausage, eggs and cheese." He answered as he started the car. I forgot that he never had much of a sweet tooth so it made sense that he would prefer savory over sweet. I bet he drank his coffee black.
After taking the last bite of my delicious waffle, I took a sip of my coffee and turned to admire my husband. My husband—it really had a nice ring to it, I thought. He had on a simple black t-shirt, ripped jeans and a white cap. He looked attractive no matter what he wore—even in a trash bag, I bet he could pull it off.
"I can't drive if you're going to stare at me like that the whole time." He teased as he looked over at me.
I immediately looked down at my hands. My cheeks turned a few shades redder as I mumbled. "Sorry." Dang it! What the heck was wrong with me? Why was I so shy around him now? My sensitivity toward him had increased ten fold.
"Where are we going?" I asked again for the third time knowing it might sound annoying but I had to change the topic. Butterflies were going crazy in my tummy making it almost uncomfortable as if trying to undo what I just ate.
"You'll probably figure it out before we even get there." He hinted.
"Oh. I've been to this place?" I pondered and eventually guessed. "Are we going to a national park?" It was in this direction and I enjoyed hiking and the outdoors. However, if we were going there, he would've told me to change out of my sandals.
Before I could make a second guess, he laughed and said. "I'm not going to give you anymore hints except that it's 2 hours outside of the city. We have another hour and a half so you can work on your homework if you want."
"Fine." I sighed in defeat as I bent down to put the empty box away and pick up my notebook and textbook from my bag.
After reading for half an hour, I turned to look out the window to let my eyes and brain rest.
Fall was definitely getting close. The leaves were starting to change—less green and more yellow—not completely yellow or different shades of red yet but soon will be.
At that moment, I felt a hand touching mine subtly—Artemis was interlocking his fingers with mine. I blushed as I looked at him as the warmth from his hand spread to my arms.
"What are you thinking about?" He asked gently.
"Nothing much. Just that summer will end soon and I will miss it." I answered with the same calmness.
My heart melted as he kept holding on to my hand. It felt like we were a couple in love going on a date. Was I starting to fall for him? How would one knows when one was in love? What were the signs?
"What will you miss about it?" He asked while facing the road ahead.
"Umm wearing single layers, going to the beach, eating ice cream, the warm sunny weather, going hiking..." I listed with my fingers marking off each one.
"You can do most of those things in the fall too." He said trying not to smile.
"I know. It's not that I don't like fall but fall means winter is next and I hate winter. Besides looking pretty with the white snow, there's nothing good about it."
"Well, there are still fun things to do in the winter. And we can always go somewhere warm if you want." He said suggestively as he gave me a smoldering gaze.
"True." I whispered and felt heat rising up my neck as I averted my eyes to what was in front of me.
Suddenly, I jerked our conjoined hands as I exclaimed. "Oh. I recognize this landmark!" I turned to him and asked with enthusiasm. "Are we going to your summer house?"
He nodded. I gasped with excitement. I haven't been there since...since Artemis's mom passed away. Without his wife and son, Mr. Jame stopped inviting my family to the summer house. We used to go to the summer house twice a year with Artemis's family.
I only recognized the landmark because of the odd structures—two gigantic grain silos and a tall red windmill—that I would always notice whenever we were going this way. They seemed to be the only constructions, besides the house and garage, in the middle of acres and acres of green vegetations.
For the last 20 minutes of the ride, I kept looking outside to see if anything had changed throughout the 14 years. Everything looked the same, but at the same time, different, but I couldn't quite figure out what was different about it.
When we arrived, he finally let go of my hand to park and I immediately jumped out of the car. I ran to the front of the house and admired the beautiful view that I had almost forgotten.
The lake was as clear as ever and I could see everything through the turquoise translucent water. There were no moving boats to disturb the scene and the surrounding trees reflected on the still water making it look like a painting.
I ran back to Artemis who standing by the car observing me and hugged him. His arms encircled my waist, picked me up and spun me around as I laughed with glee.
Once he stopped and put me down, I said gratefully. "Thank you for bringing me here. I've missed this place so much."
A grin appeared on his amused countenance. "You're already this excited even though I haven't told you what we're going to do."
"What?!” I couldn't contain my elation. I tugged at his shirt as I looked at him with doe eyes. "What are we going to do?"
He looked at his watch. "It's 10 a.m. We still have some time before lunch. I was planning on fishing with you."
"Great! I haven't done that since..." I paused and my tone softened. "Since you left."
He touched my head. "Well, I'm back so let's go."
This place was in great condition. The grass was thick, green and recently cut; colorful flowers blooming around the house; the dock was put in with 2 jet skis parked on one side with a tow boat and a pontoon on the other—all were neatly covered.
I followed Artemis into the storage garage as he grabbed two fishing poles and a huge storage box full of lures. On the wall hung 4 kayaks and many different sized life vests.
We decided to fish from the dock instead of taking the boat out. At first, I struggled trying to cast. I was quite rusty since I haven't done it for a long time. Before I got the hang of things, Artemis had already got one fish hooked. He was reeling it in as I did my first decent cast.
He saw my scowl and laughed. "I'll let you reel in the next one if I got one before you."
"Deal!" I instantly accepted the offer. My favorite part about fishing was when you felt a tiny pull on your line and you jerk to hook the fish. Once it was on, it was so much fun reeling it in—the bigger the fish, the more fun it was because it would put up more of a fight.
One time, Artemis caught a big catfish and he had let me reel it in. Well, it was big to me at least considering I was seven at the time. It took me 20 minutes but I did it—it gave me a rush as I fought hard to bring the fish in. Even though we enjoyed fishing, we never kept the fish. It was always catch and release.
"Ahh. I got one." I screamed.
"Good job, Grace! I guess I won't have to worry about you crying on me today." He laughed as I stuck my tongue out at him.
I reeled it in and it was a tiny bluegill. I sighed, disappointed. I was hoping for a big bass or a trout since bluegills were more common and easier to catch.
One thing I didn’t like to do during fishing was taking the fish off the hook. I had tried that once and the fin pricked my finger as the fish fought for its life while in my hand. That had scarred me for life and I would never want to touch a flapping fish ever again.